I think someone forgot to tell my dad that he had two daughters and not two sons. He raised us to believe, without saying it, that girls could be totally independent. He taught us to play football, not just the rules of the game, but how to physically play the game—tackle, without pads, no crying and no excuses. On Sundays, we sat together and watched the games on TV. We rooted for our favorite teams and argued over the calls by the officials. He taught us how to do maintenance on a vehicle. He used to take us on lunch dates, one daughter at time. I remember feeling like a princess on a date with the king. He taught me how to cut grass, and while my friends were spending their summers babysitting, I was taking the boys’ jobs and cutting lawns in the neighborhood. One of my favorite memories is of him joining me at the piano with his guitar, where we would sing together for hours. He led by example and taught us the importance of volunteering and helping others. He never put limits on us. He taught us that the world is not always fair. He let us take our falls and learn our lessons by enduring consequences of our actions. He always encouraged us to attain our dreams. He empowered us to believe there was nothing we couldn’t achieve.
In 1985, he was diagnosed with oral cancer. He battled cancer for 14 years. Eventually, he lost the ability to talk because the tumors were so massive. The only way he could communicate was by writing on a chalkboard, and towards the end he was too weak and too medicated to even do that. He died one week short of his 65th birthday.
My Daddy had every opportunity to be an abusive father and husband. He was raised by alcoholic, abusive parents. He fought demons all of his life. My Daddy had no role models to follow as far as being a father; he acted out of instinct and love. He was not perfect by any means, but considering where he came from, he could not have raised two girls to be any more independent and self confident had he had the perfect childhood himself. He pulled himself up mentally from the bottom many, many times and accomplished many wonderful things in his life, touching many lives through his volunteer efforts. He taught me how to live and he taught me how to die. Happy Father’s Day Daddy!